MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. —
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month recognizes and honors the heritage of individuals of AAPI descent.
1st Lt. Aaron Chen, 742nd Missile Squadron Nuclear and Missiles Operations officer, and his mother immigrated from Singapore to a small town in New York. At a young age, Chen wanted to join the Air Force directly out of high school.
“A lot of Asian Americans experience a family pressure to go to college to become a doctor or a lawyer like the stereotype,” Chen explained. “It is very common but my mom, which I’m grateful for, pushed me to go to college and wanted me to get an education. That’s how I found the ROTC program, and that’s why I commissioned.”
Chen finds many joys in being an officer including the opportunity to serve and lead Airmen. He hopes to capitalize on the opportunity to highlight struggles AAPI military members face and bring more recognition to the community.
“I’m really grateful for this base and what it has done for AAPI heritage month and the opening ceremonies. It was very nice to see our Wing leadership at the opening ceremony,” said Chen.
Although Chen believes Minot Air Force Base is headed in the right direction, he still believes we have a long way to go in the military until all communities are represented equally.
Although his job is Nuclear and Missile Operations, he enjoys doing photography and photojournalism in his free time.
“I enjoy it because it builds communities, it empowers others, especially people of color and minorities,” said Chen. “I like telling the stories of people whose voices and struggles aren’t heard.”
As his contract comes to an end, Chen has found passion for photojournalism and amplifying the voices of those whose struggles are not usually heard. With this passion he hopes to continue working in the Air Force as a civilian in the Public Affairs career field.
“I’m getting out pretty soon, to pursue storytelling and community building,” said Chen. “I would like to empower as many people of color as possible in the Air Force.”